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Gov. Gordon announces plan to keep the Jim Bridger Power Plant operational after this spring

Jim Bridger power plant
The Jim Bridger Power Plant may could potentially be kept open with technologies such as carbon capture. But the EPA must approve any new plans for the facility, which is the leading cause of haze pollution in Wyoming.

Gov. Mark Gordon announced last week that the state has entered into an agreement withPacifiCorp to keep unit two of theJim Bridger Power Plant operational past its initial closure date of April 30. This comes after Gordonpreviously issued a suspension order on Dec. 31 that allowed the unit to remain online until this spring.

“I am cautiously optimistic that this arrangement will actually stick, unlike the earlier agreement in whichEPA reversed course,” Gordon said in a press release. “There are still procedural steps to take and the public will have opportunities to comment in the future.”

The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has submitted their latest revised plan to the EPA. The state and the EPA initially agreed to a regional hazeprogram in 2020 that wouldallow the Jim Bridger plant to continue operating but were changed after President Joe Biden entered office. This led the EPAchanging its decision to allow the plant to continue operating and ordered that it comply with existing haze rules.

“[The] EPA looks forward to reviewing the materials submitted by Wyoming DEQ as part of its comment on [the] EPA’s proposed disapproval of Wyoming’s pending State Implementation Plan revision,” read a statement from the EPA emailed to Wyoming Public Radio. “We are encouraged by this development and Wyoming’s and PacifiCorp’s agreement to include these commitments in a revised SIP [state implementation plan]. Administrator [Michael] Regan appreciates the State’s efforts and the constructive dialogue with Governor Gordon.”

The agreement to keep unit two open was formalized ina consent decree early last week by a statedistrict court. PacifiCorp has also agreed to comply with theEnvironmental Protection Agency’s (EPA)Regional Haze Requirements as part of the decree, with PacifiCorp having also announced plans to convert units one and two to burn natural gas. This process may take up to two years to complete. Gordon has said it’s important to Wyoming officialsthat both units remain operational until the conversion process has been completed.

Unit one is not affected by this latest agreement and will continue to remain operational past Apr. 30. PacifiCorp has issued a request to add carbon capture technologies to units three and/or four. According to Gordon’s energy advisor, Randall Luthi, PacifiCorp has also installed selective catalytic reduction pollution controls on units three and four.

Gordon said that the EPA appears intent on forcing the shutdown of one of the units, which he said could result in “jobs lost, incomes wrecked, and careers terminated at the plant and the associated coal mine.”

Hugh Cook is Wyoming Public Radio's Northeast Reporter, based in Gillette. A fourth-generation Northeast Wyoming native, Hugh joined Wyoming Public Media in October 2021 after studying and working abroad and in Washington, D.C. for the late Senator Mike Enzi.

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